Picking a right kind of sports means a lot, just ask Dr. Michael Joyner, an anaesthesiologist and exercise researcher at the Mayo Clinic. In school, I’m sure most kids are bombarded with lots of choices when it comes to choosing a suitable Co-Curriculum Activity (CCA). While I was in Primary School, it was a rather straightforward decision though; sport was my thing. I tried out both individual and team sports and here are some of the essential differences.
What sports should your child take part in?
Individual Sport – Discipline and character building
I chose Badminton in Primary 3, partly due to my exposure to the racquet sport at an early age. Badminton, as we all know, is pretty much an individual sport. Training sessions are usually conducted with my coach and apart from the sparring matches; there were little interaction between fellow Badminton mates. Footwork drills were standard routines and we were required to complete particular sets of physical workouts on our own.
As an individual sport, I set my own pace as we complete the rigorous drills. Moreover, 1 to 1 (maximum 2 to 1) coaching is done via structured rallies with the coach. Communication with the rest of the team members was minimal as any form of “bonding” was done after training. By which time, most of us are exhausted and haven’t really got the ‘stamina’ left to socialize.
Badminton competitions were always nerve wrecking for me and no amount of encouragement from my coach helped. Facing seasoned opponents was daunting and with so many eyes fixated on my performance, I would always feel every mistake that I made was magnified by many times.
Still, I took pride in every point I won even if I lose the match in the end. That was how strong a character an individual sport honed me to become. Every point was the result of my hardwork and amount of sacrifices I had put in to achieve it. I assumed all credit was due me.
Individual Sport – Being tough
Competitive individual sport can be extremely pressurizing, especially for young kids. Of course, having the passion for the sport helps, but you need to find out if your kid is able to thrive in a competitive environment.
If your child enjoys plenty of attention, then an individual sport will most probably be suitable for him/her to excel in. However, your kid would need to possess a lot of self-motivation to thrive in an individual sport. Otherwise, he/she may risk the danger of becoming stagnant and eventually lose interest in the game.
Neo Hui Wei, double gold medallist for Long Jump and Triple Jump at the POL-ITE Track & Field Meet 2011, shares his views on individual sport, “in competitions, I am my burden. Your teammates can only motivate you, there is really nothing much they can help.”
Hui Wei is your typical individual sport’s athlete – confident, tenacious and goal oriented, setting high expectations for himself. “There is no ‘I’ in a team. But in individual sports, ‘I’ is everything,” he added.
Group Sport – One for all, all for one
I was introduced to Floorball during my Junior College days. And I would wake up each morning, looking forward to trainings. Not surprisingly, I found my ‘clique’ in this sport.
Unlike my time in Badminton, we did everything together in Floorball; setting up/keeping equipments, doing warm-ups, structured drills, physical workouts and having late dinners. My team mates were my extended family.
Floorball coach and former Singapore National Floorball player Sonia Chia coached Bukit Merah Secondary School to the gold medal in the ‘B’ Division Girls’ Floorball Championship in 2007. For her, she said, “a true team consists of people with a common heart and a common goal, working together towards one common dream.”
When asked about the difference between team and individual sports, she commented “team sports are more vibrant compared to individual sports as emotions are shared amongst teammates. Furthermore, it is also more challenging as there are many things you have to work out together as a team to succeed.”
Team sports also involve a higher degree of interaction and are generally more fast-paced while individuals are required to work seamlessly as a unit. Each member is akin to gears of a cogwheel; everyone needs to perform well for the team to function properly. ‘Chemistry’ is essentially what team sport is all about. Once a team gels nicely, the camaraderie and the unity of the members will carry the team through any tough challenges and forge friendships for life.
Group Sport – Talk to me!
It takes at least 2 persons to pass a ball. Communication is vital in the process of knowing your teammates better to utilize the unique strengths of each individual in a team.
Pep talks are more regular in team sports as its purpose is to allow everybody to voice their thoughts and motivate each other. Conflicts and tempers are also more common in team sports, but they are great opportunities to learn conflict-resolution skills.
In a nutshell, team sports are more likely to nurture your child to be more extroverted than individual sports.
Both categories of sports are special in their own right. They each have various aspects that develop kids in different ways. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your child’s decision, i.e. what kind of sport he/she likes to play. Because that, quite frankly, is all that matters.